Buy a yoga mat, borrow one or do without it altogether?
Buying a yoga mat is easy. Finding the right yoga mat for your practice is a little more difficult. There are sustainable, non-slip, absorbent and thoroughly designed mats. There are hard and soft yoga mats, some are made of plastic and others of rubber. If you have a choice, you are spoilt for choice.
The Lotus Design team would like to make it a little easier for you to choose the perfect yoga mat for you and your practice. Here is a small checklist to get you started on the topic of "buying a yoga mat":
Is the yoga mat non-slip?
Does the mat offer you enough comfort to lie on?
Is the yoga mat insulated against the cold of the floor?
Is the mat durable?
Is the mat easy to clean?
Is the yoga mat free of artificial odours?
First things first: Why does the yogi need a mat at all?
The first yogis in India probably got by without a yoga mat. The modern yogi in the West, however, has a completely different anatomy and we did not grow up in a yogic culture.
For example, the padding of the mat protects your joints. A good yoga mat is indispensable so that you can keep your balance during your asanas. On a slippery floor you would quickly start to slip and not be able to maintain your stability. This can lead not only to frustration but also to orthopaedic problems.
To find out for yourself whether the yoga mat you have chosen is non-slip enough, do a simple test: get into the dog-walking position. Can you hold this Asana well or do you feel that your hands are constantly sliding forward? Only if you are stable in this basic yoga position is the mat you have chosen non-slip enough.
If you practice on a yoga mat that is not non-slip enough, this can lead to subtle strains or even more serious injuries. Lotus Design strongly recommends that you do not use a yoga mat that does not have a secure grip.
Through thick and thin: yoga vs. aerobics
Anyone who attends Pilates or fitness classes will be familiar with the gymnastics mats that are used there. Although they look similar to yoga mats, they are not suitable for asana practice. Yoga mats are thinner than other sports mats, usually only four to five millimetres thick. Normal gym mats are not slip-resistant and can therefore be dangerous for the yoga practitioner.
For those who are just starting yoga, we recommend opting for the thickest version. Advanced yogis should choose the slimmer version, because a secure grip is especially important for balance exercises. Fans of dynamic yoga styles such as Ashtanga Yoga or Iyengar Yoga should also buy a thin yoga mat. On the other hand, those who love gentler yoga styles, such as Yin Yoga, are better off with a thicker mat.
As you can see, before buying a yoga mat, it is important to know what style of yoga you will be practising regularly. If you are just starting out and want to try out different types of yoga, you are probably better off renting a yoga mat from a yoga studio.
Once you have finally decided on a style, you can buy the appropriate yoga mat. It is a nice feeling for most people to have their own yoga mat - because this way you can also practise yoga at home or on holiday. Maybe it will even become a spiritual anchor in your everyday life.
Yoga mats for special tasks and special situations
For yogis who sweat a lot, we recommend mats that retain their non-slip properties despite moisture, or that have even more grip as a result. The same applies to sweaty yoga styles such as Hot Yoga or Vinyasa Yoga. So the place where we practise our yoga also plays a role. A retreat in India or Mexico will stress our sweat glands differently than a retreat in Norway.
If you practise dynamic Ashtanga yoga, you definitely need a yoga mat that is resistant to abrasion, because the strain on the mat is then incomparably higher than with gentle Yin yoga.
Not only important for materialists: rubber, cork or plastic?
At Lotus Design, we take care to produce and sell under socially fair and ecologically sustainable conditions. Did you know that we have been a recognised inclusion company for over 20 years? Currently, four employees with disability status work at Lotus Design, because social responsibility always starts on site for us.
Which material your yoga mat should be made of is not only an aesthetic decision. We have yoga mats made of plastic, natural rubber, jute, cork and pure wool in our range. Each material has advantages and disadvantages. Here is a brief portrait of three different materials:
Yoga mats made of plastic
Yoga mats made of PVC, for example, are very popular, especially because of their attractive price-performance ratio. Since they usually weigh less than average, they are also well suited for travelling. However, their production is comparatively not as environmentally friendly.
Mats made of natural rubber
Due to their natural structure, yoga mats made of natural rubber offer good grip and are very robust. One disadvantage: mats made of rubber sometimes have a strong odour, but this can be neutralised quickly by airing them out.
Jute yoga mats
A jute mat is very absorbent and therefore absorbs moisture very well. This is advantageous for sweaty yoga styles such as hot yoga or Ashtanga yoga. Unfortunately, jute is not very comfortable, which is a clear disadvantage of these mats.
Why choosing your yoga mat is also a matter of the heart
We have now talked a lot on this page about the advantages and disadvantages of materials and the suitability of mats in relation to different yoga styles. However, despite all common sense, we should not ignore aesthetic and emotional aspects when choosing a yoga mat.
A yoga mat is the heart of your yoga practice! It will ground you in many hours of yoga and perhaps even be an anchor for you in everyday life. It is your little island of peace and self-awareness. Therefore, the yoga mat you buy should also appeal to you visually. It should "feel right" - in a practical and figurative sense!
Life beyond the yoga mat
The yoga mat is always the foundation of your yoga practice. If you only want to buy one product for your yoga, then it should definitely be a good yoga mat. But beyond the yoga mat, you will also find many useful products at Lotus Design that will make your practice even more enjoyable and successful. So feel free to take a look around our shop!